The Lexus RX450h+ is the perfect family car that combines a luxury full hybrid SUV body with unparalleled technology and build quality.
To fully savour the Lexus RX experience, we embarked on an unforgettable journey through the scenic landscapes of England, beginning our adventure in Surrey and making our way to Cornwall, where we enjoyed a delightful stay at the St Moritz Hotel in Polzeath. Our return trip to Surrey coincided with the transition from the last rays of summer sun to the arrival of October storms.
The RX, a plug-in hybrid like many of its luxury SUV peers, possesses a unique lineage that sets it apart. Lexus introduced the RX hybrid series back in the early 2000s, making it the first luxury hybrid five-seater of its kind. With over two decades of continuous refinement, the RX has now entered its 5th generation.
So it's a full AWD hybrid with plugin recharge and self-charging. A 4-cylinder 304 bhp in-line engine, plus dual electric motors, that achieves 0-62 mph in 6.5 secs, with a top speed of 124 mph, and a combined mpg of 256 mpg (impressive). And 461 litres of boot capacity.
Power is delivered through the E-CVT, or Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable Transmission, a smart and adaptive gearbox, equipped with an infinite array of gear ratios. It operates by perpetually evaluating multiple factors, including vehicle speed, road conditions, engine power, and driver input, in order to meticulously pinpoint the most efficient gear ratio for the precise moment at hand. So gear changes are super smooth, indeed indiscernible.
Yet, what truly sets the new Lexus RX apart is its ingenious full hybrid system. This system seamlessly blends petrol and electric power, and it allows you the option to switch to EV mode for an all-electric experience. When left to its own devices, the system intelligently selects the optimal combination for eco-efficient performance. As a result, the RX achieves a remarkable 256.8mpg, an exceptional feat for an SUV. Furthermore, when exclusively relying on the battery, the RX offers an impressive 18.1 kWh, delivering a generous 40 minutes of electric-only driving.
But the RX's appeal extends beyond its eco-friendly credentials. The combination of electric and ICE power delivers an impressive 304bhp, resulting in a brisk 0-62mph time of just 6.5 seconds. Even with passengers and luggage, engaging in sport mode and pressing the accelerator provides a noticeable burst of power. Yet, the primary focus of the RX is on comfort, as the vehicle is exquisitely designed for smooth cruising on motorways, effortlessly gliding over bumps along the way. Its suspension is remarkably comfortable, even on rugged Cornish roads. While not considered an off-road master, I did take the RX off the beaten path onto some extremely rocky seaside Cornish tracks, and it handled the terrain admirably on its 21-inch alloys.
Exterior-wise, Lexus has evolved significantly in terms of design since the 2000s. The vehicle exhibits a sleek and stylish profile from every angle. The elegantly protruding bonnet and medieval chainmail-inspired front grille make for a unique appearance. The sharp headlights, powerful wheel arches, and graceful curves of the rear haunches all contribute to its striking aesthetics. I would recommend avoiding the grey paintwork in favour of more vibrant colours, as the car truly shines in shades like Mesa red.
Upon entering the cabin, you'll find a comfortable and refined interior. Every element exudes solidity, and durability, a testament to Lexus's reputation for exceptional build quality. Opting for the Takumi edition elevates the experience with a spacious panoramic sunroof, ensuring ample light and picturesque views from the back seats. There is plenty of legroom, front and back and the seats are amongst the most comfortable we have experienced.
The white leather adorning the seats, dashboard, and doors envelop you in an opulent embrace, creating a heightened sense of luxury and contributing to an open, expansive atmosphere. The large 14-inch centre touchscreen is immediately intuitive to use. However, the map app could benefit from some updates, as it occasionally overestimated route lengths. The 21-speaker Mark Levinson sound system made the journey fly by, pumping out a special playlist we had designed for the holiday, with excellent sound quality and instant connectivity.
The RX impresses with its technological features, including a wireless charger, a heads-up display, and an adjustable digital rear-view mirror. I particularly appreciated the Adaptive Cruise Control system, which made highway driving a breeze. With a simple click of a well-placed button on the steering wheel, it effortlessly maintained my chosen speed, slowing down when necessary and speeding up when safe.
Lexus's Lane Trace Assist takes this to the next level, offering seamless steering assistance. It expertly navigated the car through corners while cruising at 70 mph on the motorway. It temporarily disengages when indicating lane changes, then smoothly re-engages. The system proved invaluable when we encountered torrential rain and mist, as it steered the car without requiring my input. The safety features on the RX are genuinely useful and inspire confidence to a high degree, far and away above any other car in this class.
In terms of parking, the RX is exceptionally user-friendly, thanks to a 360-degree overhead view on the screen using rear cameras. Not to mention the automatic and remote parking functionality, a boon in the dark after a long journey. Plus Lexus always provides a wireless phone charger, essential in any modern car.
In conclusion, the Lexus RX450h+ is the ultimate family vacation vehicle with the best-in-class technology. It accommodates a large family of five and all their luggage with ease. On the highway, it provides supreme comfort for passengers and effortless cruising for the driver, thanks to Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Trace Assist. The option to turn it into a self-driving cruiser significantly reduced stress on our exploratory Cornish adventures. When the driver chooses to take control, the car's acceleration and 4-wheel steering make it a delight to drive, feeling surprisingly nimble for its size.
Our Lexus proved the perfect beach companion, effortlessly transporting us daily using electric power, comfortably fitting all our body boards, and making loading and unloading a breeze with the boot kick sensor. The RX occupies a competitive midrange pricing tier, offering an economical alternative to top-tier Audi, BMW, and Mercedes SUVs, while still exceeding the quality of more budget-friendly Range Rovers.
Base RX 450h+ from £67,100
RX 450h+ Takumi from £81,600